Members of the Leadership Lawrence class on Thursday got a peek inside the mind of new Kansas University football coach Turner Gill.
What they found is that it is clean cut.
“It probably doesn’t have to be this way,” Gill said in response to a question about how he selected his assistant coaches, “but I decided that I was not going to hire anybody who was going to be cursing and using that type of language. We are here to develop these people as young men, so we don’t need to do that.”
Gill said the policy fits with his belief that coaches must first have a passion for training young athletes. That means communicating with them in meaningful ways, he said.
“I want all of my coaches to be able to explain to our students how they are going to do something and why it is important for them to do it,” Gill said.
Now, Gill wishes he would hear more from young people. He told the Leadership Lawrence crowd that one of the larger concerns he has about members of the 18-to-23-year old age group is that many struggle with verbal communication.
“I really want to help them learn to move their mouths and talk,” Gill said.
Coaches on Gill’s staff often are instructed to pull a couple of players aside after meetings just to talk with them.
“I want to get them talking about something — it doesn’t have to be about football — but something that involves more than just yes or no answers.”
Other thoughts from Gill — who was the guest speaker at the leadership class’ monthly gathering — included:
• Players will be expected to donate at least two hours of time per semester on projects or causes that are designed to help others.
“We all know deep down that when you do something for somebody else, you really end up feeling better about yourself,” Gill said.
• He’s a big believer in note taking.
“If you show up to class every day and take notes in a proper way, you won’t fail a class,” Gill told the crowd. “You may not get an A, you may not get a B, but you aren’t going to fail.”
• Players are frequently encouraged to improve their relationships with family members. Gill told the crowd about a player he had at the University of Buffalo who confided that he did not often tell his mom that he loved her. So Gill set the player up on a schedule to call his mom at 2 p.m. each Sunday. Not only that, Gill would check in with the mother occasionally to see if the calls were still coming.
Suffice it to say, the mother became quite a Gill fan.
Gill also was well received by the Leadership Lawrence class.
“Everything he said resonated with me,” said Mark Hummel, a member of the leadership class. “He didn’t talk about wins and losses. He talked about building young men. It was really refreshing.”
Well, there was a little bit of talk about wins and losses.
“Yes, I know,” Gill said as he raised his hand and waved it, “I’m here to win football games. I know if I don’t, I won’t be here very long. But I understand my purpose, and I know it goes deeper than football.”